Silicone, which is a synthetic polymer consists of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and silicon which is a naturally occurring element.
For years now, silicone has become a huge competitor of plastic. Just like plastic, silicone is used in several applications and so the question remains whether or not it’s toxic.
Is Silicone Toxic?
A brief answer is a resounding no, silicone is safe and that explains why it’s used in various applications to date.
Looking at its chemical composition and stability, there are absolutely no toxic elements that warrant it as unsafe. In addition to that, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved most silicone products alongside some regulations to control measures.
Plastic vs Food Grade Silicone
When it comes to toxicity, plastic is one of the world’s biggest environmental pollutants. Materials that go into the manufacture of plastic including BPA and PVC are major contributors to its toxicity. There is a potential for such substances to leach into food or drinks and cause intoxication.
Silicon on the other hand is undoubtedly the best alternative not only because of its durability but also safety and environmental friendliness.
As such, it’s deemed to be safe for use in the manufacture of food products and several other consumer products.
Safety of Different Grades of Silicones
Silicone comes in different grades and each of these grades differ in terms of their properties and applications.
· Industrial Grade Silicone
As the name implies, industrial-grade silicone is mostly used in manufacturing firms dealing with coatings, adhesives, and lubricants.
In comparison with food-grade and medical-grade silicones, industrial-grade silicone is made of low-quality raw materials.
Why you might ask?
Purity is not a key requirement in industrial-grade silicone as seen in medical and food-grade silicones. For that reason, industrial-grade silicone is much cheaper while still maintaining its flexibility feature.
However, due to its low purity levels, its toxicity is much higher and could potentially cause contamination.
· Medical Grade Silicone
Medical-grade silicone is one of the purest grades of all owing to its biocompatibility. By this I mean it has passed the required tests and standards required for safe use in the human body or rather living tissues.
As such, medical-grade silicones are widely used in breast implants, catheters, and pacemakers. USP Class VI. ISO10993 and ISO 10993 are some of the international standards that verify the safety of medical-grade silicone.
· Food Grade Silicone
Food-grade silicone is used in the manufacture of products used in the kitchen. Just like medical-grade silicone, food-grade silicone uses raw materials of high purity levels and undergoes thorough testing.
This is done to ensure food safety is upheld. It also explains why food-grade silicone is one of the safest grades of silicones.
The EU and FDA are some of the agencies that control the safety standards of food-grade silicone. These bodies ensure that materials that come into contact with food undergo thorough testing to ascertain that toxicity, leaching, or migration is non-existent.
· Liquid Silicone Rubber
You are likely to find liquid silicone rubber products in areas such as automotive, consumer goods, and medical products.
Examples of products manufactured using LSR include phone cases, catheters, seals, toys, and gaskets just to mention some.
Liquid silicone rubber also requires high purity levels owing to its use in making medical products. As such, it has a great biocompatibility making it a safe substance.
So really, it’s critical to carefully study and understand the different types of silicone grades. Know its intended use and regulatory requirements then choose reputable manufacturers to work with.
What to Know About Using Silicone in Different Applications
1. Silicone in Skincare and Cosmetics
Skin products such as sunscreens, shampoos, and antiperspirants contain silicone. Not only does silicone promote skin elasticity and minimizes scarring but also improves hydration and smoothens skin.
In as much as it’s not toxic to the skin, it’s important for those with acne-prone skin to first seek consultation from a dermatologist.
Also, silicone is safe for use in the enlargement of some body parts such as breast and butt.
But at the same time, you also need to know that the FDA strongly issues warnings regarding the use of liquid silicone. Normally, liquid silicone can be injected into any part of the body, the popular one being the lips.
According to the FDA, liquid silicone is capable of deadly consequences. A reason why most cosmetic surgeons have started offering liquid silicone removal services. If so, you are looking to get safe injectable fillers, be sure to check for any presence of silicone. FDA-approved injectable fillers lack silicone.
2. Silicone in Kitchenware
When it comes to selecting kitchenware, food-grade silicone is best in terms of being “food safe”. Food-grade silicone is FDA-approved so it’s safe for food or drink contact.
While the FDA has ruled silicone as a safe product, it has urged consumers to be cautious about silicon kitchenware containing non-stick coating. More often than not, food-grade silicone is free from harmful substances such as BPA, PVC, lead, and BPS. This makes silicon kitchenware safe to use with zero health risks.
In case you want to confirm the legitimacy of your silicon kitchenware, try twisting it.
Normally, silicone doesn’t change color so if you observe a whitish color, then the product contains a filler. Fillers reduce the efficacy of the product. You might later notice that the product cracks or loses elasticity.
3. Silicone in Electronic Products
Silicone is often used as a sealant in several electrical components such as capacitors, cable covers, and connectors. It neither reacts nor causes degradation of electrical parts rendering it a safe material to use in electronics. Other than that, it’s a natural insulator in its pure form.
4. Silicone in Lubricants
Silicone has desirable properties that stabilize the resin making it perfect for use in industrial and personal lubricants. The hypoallergenic nature of silicone lubricants ensures there are no reactions from its usage.
5. Silicone in Healthcare
Silicone products used in healthcare must be medical grade (FDA approved). Therefore, most if not all are safe. In fact, medical practitioners prefer using silicone products on patients who experience allergic reactions to latex.
Tips For Using Silicone Products Safely
- Always select silicone products that are pure silicone ideally food-grade or medical-grade silicone. You can easily test for purity in silicone by pinching or twisting it and observing whether or not it changes color. Pure silicone retains the original color while “fake silicone” will form a whitish color when twisted.
- Avoid putting your pacifiers and bottle nipples in the dishwasher and dispose of them once they start appearing cloudy. While at it, remember it’s best to use phthalate-free baby bottles and nipples.
- Silicone products should not be exposed to heat exceeding 300°.
- Ensure that your silicone products are cleaned before using them on food or drinks.
Is Silicone Environmentally Friendly?
Silicone is much safer than plastic as far as environmental friendliness is concerned. Even though silicone is not biodegradable, it’s neither harmful to aquatic organisms nor is it a hazardous waste. Not forgetting that it can be recycled.
Does Silicone Contain BPA?
Silicone is a BPA-free substance and this explains why it’s considered safe. Aside from being BPA-free, it also lacks lead, phthalates, and latex which could otherwise make it toxic.
So really, silicone is not only versatile but also has been proven by experts to be safe for use. For the record, be sure to follow each of the above-mentioned guidelines and measures when dealing with silicone products.
Is Silicone Safe – Source: Healthline
Is Silicone Safe for Humans – Source: MedicineNet